Thule Air Station

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Thule Air Station
Coordinates 76°24′14″N068°43′06″W / 76.40389°N 68.71833°W / 76.40389; -68.71833 (Thule AS G-32)
Type Air Force Station
Site history
Built 1951
In use 1951-1965
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  ·  Google Maps
Download coordinates as: KML  ·  GPX

Thule Air Station (ADC ID: G-32) is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 9.2 miles (14.8 km) south of Thule Air Base, Greenland. It was closed in 1965.

United States Air Force Air and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

Thule Air Base US air base in Thule, Greenland

Thule Air Base, or Thule Air Base/Pituffik Airport, is the United States Air Force's northernmost base, located 1,207 km (750 mi) north of the Arctic Circle and 1,524 km (947 mi) from the North Pole on the northwest coast of the island of Greenland.

Contents

History

Thule Air Station was constructed as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar site at the World War II Bluie West-6 weather station in 1950 by Northeast Air Command (NEAC), in conjunction with the larger Thule Air Base, 9 miles to the north 76°31′52″N068°42′12″W / 76.53111°N 68.70333°W / 76.53111; -68.70333 (Thule Air Base) . Its mission was to detect intrusion of unknown aircraft and relay that information to the interceptor squadron at Thule Air Base. The 931st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was assigned on 1 July 1952 by NEAC, and the station was declared operationally ready on 8 November 1952, the station (G-32) was equipped with AN/FPS-3, AN/FPS-4, AN/FPS-20A and AN/FPS-6 radars.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Northeast Air Command 1941-1957 United States Air Force geographic command responsible for Greenland, Labrador, and Newfoundland

The Northeast Air Command (NEAC) was a short-lived organization in the United States Air Force tasked with the operation and defense of air bases in Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland. It was formed in 1950 from the facilities of the United States established during World War II in Northeast Canada, Newfoundland and Greenland. It was discontinued in 1957.

To broaden its range, two additional manned sites were established. Etah Air Station (G-33, AKA "A-site") 78°18′50″N072°36′35″W / 78.31389°N 72.60972°W / 78.31389; -72.60972 (Etah AS GL G-33) 144.5 miles (232.6 km) north-northwest, hosted Detachment 1, 921st AC&W Squadron, equipped with two AN/TPS-1D radars. Ice Cap Air Station (G-34, AKA "B-site"), 79°27′52″N059°09′01″W / 79.46444°N 59.15028°W / 79.46444; -59.15028 (Ice Cap AS GL G-34) 252.3 miles (406.0 km) north-northeast, hosted detachment 2, and was also equipped with two AN/TPS-1Ds.

AN/TPS-1

The AN/TPS-1 Radar was an early warning and tactical control radar manufactured by Bendix Corporation used by the US Army. It was later used by the United States Air Force Air Defense Command, and a number of European armed forces.

The main station was logistically supported by Thule Air Base, and personnel assigned to the Radar Station would transport to and from the base, weather permitting. Duty at the station consisted of an "A" and a "B" shift of twelve hours each day, seven days a week. Personnel at the remote sites lived under the snow in metal structures connected by unheated hallways of steel corrugated tubes. When they did go outside it was through hatches in the ceilings to access auxiliary structures and the radar antennas. The locations of the stations, all north of the Arctic Circle, meant long periods without sunlight all day or with sunlight all day. The remote sites were supported by C-47 Skytrains equipped with skis, which would land on the hard-packed snow near the stations, providing logistical support and personnel transportation to and from Thule AB. Each remote site had a personnel complement of 20.

Arctic Circle Boundary of the Arctic

The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circles and the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude as shown on maps of Earth. It marks the northernmost point at which the centre of the noon sun is just visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point at which the centre of the midnight sun is just visible on the June solstice. The region north of this circle is known as the Arctic, and the zone just to the south is called the Northern Temperate Zone.

Although the Air Force provided as much in terms of recreation facilities at the remote sites as was possible, the fact was that in the 1950s, the duty there was extremely isolated and hard on the airmen stationed there. Det 1 and Det 2 were closed in April 1957 when Air Defense Command took over the stations and inactivated the "A" and "B" sites.

The radar site closed on 24 December 1965, and was replaced by the 12th Missile Warning Squadron, with radars designed to monitor ICBM launches rather than aircraft coming over from the Soviet Union. The main station at Thule was torn down in 1985. The remote sites were abandoned and left to the Arctic elements.

Air Force units and assignments

Emblem of the 931st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron 931st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron - Emblem.png
Emblem of the 931st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron

Units:

Assigned to Thule Air Station, 1 November 1952
Discontinued, 24 December 1965

Assignments:

See also

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References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/ .